Trevor Lawrence might be the best quarterback in college football, but he should keep playing. The 2021 Draft class will look different than it does today.
Brian Costa at the Wall Street Journal tackles this question from a dollars and cents perspective. He extrapolates from the recent trend of college players skipping bowl games to avoid injury, and since a serious injury can derail a career and reduce lifetime earnings, he argues that Trevor Lawrence — the would be first overall pick in this year’s draft — should sit out the next two years.
Since Lawrence is the best quarterback in college football right now, Costa makes the case that it could be in his best interest to sit these next two years out.
There certainly is a little to his argument. Incurring a serious injury could cost Trevor millions of dollars in his first contract, assuming his injury is substantial and late in his college career.
Not to mention, the more film becomes available, the more scouts look to see what “wrong” with a player. That leads to people talking themselves out of drafting a particular player because they see something wrong.
When Deshaun wrapped up his Heisman winning…er…runner-up campaign, he was crowned the de facto number one quarterback in the 2017 draft. One year later, scouts decided that he was too inaccurate to translate into a franchise quarterback and he fell to the twelfth spot, where the Texans traded up to pick him.
So. What should Trevor Lawrence do? I mean, my fan-brain is screaming “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING? TREVOR SHOULD PLAY EVERY EFFING SNAP UNTIL HE’S REQUIRED BY THE NCAA TO LEAVE!” And yes, that would be super dope. But let’s be realistic and try to take a look at this.
For sure, there is a risk of injury. And, yep, there will be more tape of Trevor Lawrence doing quarterback things in stellar and not as stellar ways. I remember seeing one pundit talk about his throwing motion as he cocks his arm back. It wasn’t Tebow-level problematic, but it concerned the analyst. I’m not a quarterback guru, so I cannot comment on that.
What I can do, though, is look at history. While this study is dated (2008, to be exact), it still shows that starts and completion percentage matter. The spread revolution has skewed the importance of completion percentage as a valuable measurement, but the importance of games started might still mean something.
Sure, more talented players tend to start early and, in so doing, get more starts in their college career. But there is certainly something valuable about playing football. There must be things that we can learn from actually playing the game that we can’t by simply watching it.
Sure, we can watch film and diagnose coverages there. But what about in real-time, with the pocket collapsing? There has to be a reason why we play the game, otherwise college would just be the combine.
Second, and I think this is an important point, if Trevor Lawrence sits out the next two years, he gives his competition a chance to catch up. Do you remember who the hot quarterback was at this time last year? Tua Tagovailoa.
We’re fickle sports consumers. Last year (and this year until the Championship), Tua was the hot ticket. He was the golden quarterback who would be a franchise cornerstone. Sure, he took a couple dings this year, but if he hadn’t played at all, would he be that much better off?
Trevor Lawrence would still be incredible, while Tua wouldn’t have the chance to defend his spot on Quarterback Mountain. Tua still has next year (and maybe his senior year). If Trevor is as good as we know in our hearts he is, then he should keep playing and be a legend.
The only instances where it would make sense that Trevor Lawrence should sit out are if he thinks he’s worse than he has been playing lately or if he thinks he’s so injury prone that he’ll break playing the next 30 games. (That’s right. Two more ‘ships). If he sits out, NFL teams will probably realize that. Not to mention the pseudo-psychological breakdowns they love to do on players entering the draft.
So the short of it is, nah, Trevor Lawrence shouldn’t sit out the next two years. Unless he’s bad. But he isn’t. So let’s go get more rings.